Colfax Marathon Postpones, and Runners Want Refunds

Cheer for 19,000 random strangers this weekend.
Cheer for 19,000 random strangers this weekend. Colfax Marathon
The Olympics were postponed. The Boston, Tokyo and Paris marathons were postponed. And now, the Colfax Marathon has been postponed from its May 16-17 dates — and may be canceled altogether — to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The decision to postpone was made earlier this week, as the end date for the city's and state's stay-at-home orders were pushed back to late the earliest.

"Over the past weeks, all of us have watched the severity of COVID-19 increase," CEO Andrea Dowdy and race director Creigh Kelley wrote on the event's website. "We hope, like everyone, that the aggressive actions of sheltering in place and eliminating large gatherings will help all of us be safe.

"We have been talking to the City of Denver and our partners on a daily basis to seek a safer date in 2020, as we have officially canceled our race weekend of May 16-17," they added. "At this time, the City of Denver cannot finalize their process and timeline for the hundreds of impacted special events, so decisions will not be made until the end of April or later."

Despite the public-health wisdom behind the decision, some runners are grumbling, while others are grateful.

The Denver event — which shuts down much of East Colfax Avenue and is run over two days — includes 26.2, 10K, 5K and relay options. Since the race was scheduled to take place in mid-May, most marathon runners were nearing their peak-training mileage, typically involving twenty-mile-long weekend runs, when the decision was announced. And runners who are training that hard aren't always at their chillest.

Some requested a virtual option, which would involve runners picking their own routes, running them, and submitting times to the race directors for all the perks: medals, T-shirts and whatnot.

"This was my first one ever, and I just want to finish and 'go the distance' at this point and don't know that I want to start over at a later date," wrote Kate on Facebook.

Others made the case for refunds — which athletes typically waive the right to when enrolling in a race. "I know it’s not feasible for a lot of races to offer refunds but this race is a lot more pricey than the smaller local ones and if there is even the slightest hint that it may not even happen we should be able to get our money back," wrote Alex. "That’s a decent amount that can go towards bills or supplies for most of us."

Others griped that the news was communicated to racers over social media and on the website, but not by email.

"An email blast to those who have registered would have been nice," chided Erin. "We've already given you our money — the least you could do is help us stay informed!"

A few people who were planning to come to Denver from another state were especially irked.

"As an out of stater who won’t easily be able to travel at another time, I’d like to kindly request my money back, please," wrote Lucinda. "The 3 other races I was registered for have all offered choices between either a refund or deferred registration. Would it be possible for you to do the same?"

According to the race directors, they're still figuring out how to respond. "Upon determining if we can secure a 2020 date, we will communicate to runners and team captains their options," they wrote.

And the latest information, they promise, will be available at the race URL,
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris